Raised to the Power of M

The megapopular XD auto pistol from Springfield Armory just got better.

The XDM review sample demonstrated excellent accuracy at 25 yards.

What do you do if you've already introduced one of the hottest-selling civilian and duty handguns in America and rapidly seized an unexpectedly large share of the already-crowded polymer-pistol market? If you're Springfield Armory, you develop a new and even-better version. The new gun is the Springfield XDM, which takes the company's existing XD semiautomatic to a significantly improved level of performance and refinement.


A scant half-dozen years ago, nobody would have predicted that a polymer-frame auto pistol developed in Zagreb, Croatia, could ever be a success, but Springfield Armory has proved us all wrong. The original XD design was first made available in the U.S. on a limited scale in 2000 by importer HS America of Knoxville, Tennessee, designated as the HS 2000. Recognizing the gun's potential, Springfield acquired exclusive import rights in 2001, renamed it the XD (for X-treme Duty), and began to aggressively promote it and expand the line. In addition to the original-configuration 4-inch Service Model currently available in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .45 GAP chamberings, in 2002 Springfield added a ported version of the Service Model and a 5-inch Tactical Model. And in 2003, the company announced a 3-inch, short-grip Subcompact Model in 9mm and .40 S&W.

In 2005, the .45 GAP was added to the list of XD chamberings, and eagerly anticipated Service and Tactical .45 ACP models arrived in 2006. With the addition of the .45 ACP Compact in 2007, there are now more than 50 available standard XD versions and configurations, chamberings, sight setups, and finish variations.


The "M" Factors
Now comes the XDM, initially introduced in .40 S&W chambering. The superscript "M" in the XDM designation for the new version stands generally for "Match," and it is also being used by Springfield as a code letter for all the subtle yet significant refinements that set the XDM apart from the standard versions--which will continue to be available. The most effective way to appreciate these refinements is to simply go through them, one by one, using Springfield's own terminology.


Match-Grade Barrel
All XDM pistols are equipped with a black melonite-finish, match-grade, 4.5-inch barrel with a fully supported ramp such as typically found only on customized competition-grade pistols. With a bushing-free fit and a full-length recoil-spring/guide-rod assembly, the addition of a match-grade barrel to the XDM platform elevates its typical measured average-group accuracy by approximately 20 percent compared to standard XD pistols. Plus, the half-inch longer barrel length gives the XDM a balance and feel very close to a classic full-size Model 1911.

Model Contour Frame
The XDM carries over the ideal Government Model 1911 grip angle of the original XD but with slightly modified contours in the upper area of the backstrap and on both sides of the frame behind the trigger as well as in the magazine-release area of the grip. These minor modifications significantly improve the feel of the gun in your hand and your ability to manipulate its operating features without "breaking" your firing grasp. These differences are subtle but quickly apparent when you inspect and handle an XDM and a standard XD side by side.

Mould-Tru Backstraps
Key ingredients of the XDM's frame refinements are three different sizes and configurations of interchangeable backstraps (small, medium, and large) supplied with each gun. These deeply textured inserts are easily switched by means of a crosspin that also serves as an attachment point for use of a lanyard. They allow each XDM pistol to be personalized to the shooter's hand size and shape, and length of the trigger finger. Each backstrap will slightly shift the "pointability" of the pistol in terms of the shooter's natural alignment of the trigger finger with the axis of the bore in much the same way that switching from a flat mainspring housing to an arched mainspring housing does on a Model 1911.

Maximum-Reach Magazine Release
In addition to interchangeable backstraps, the modified contour of the new XDM grip is most evident near the magazine release, where the frame has been relieved and dished to provide markedly improved access to the fully ambidextrous (not merely reversible) magazine-release button. It also provides an index position for the thumb of the firing hand. The magazine-release buttons have been designed slightly longer than typical to allow operation without excessive pressure while preventing accidental release. The shooter can easily reach the mechanism regardless of hand size without twisting or adjusting from the shooting grip--whether his technique is to use his trigger finger or his thumb, whether right- or left-handed.

Megacapacity Magazine
The XDM is the only .40 S&W pistol currently available that is built to accommodate a 16-round magazine. That's a lot of firepower, particularly in a pistol with a grip that fits very much in the hand like a classic single-stack 1911. In fact, when you put an XDM magazine alongside the grip, it doesn't look like it could possibly fit inside. The designers have obviously used every micron of available space, and it's a remarkable engineering achievement. I can only imagine how many rounds they'll be able to stick into the guaranteed-to-be-forthcoming XDM 9mm version.

Megalock Texture
Eschewing conventional checkering, the texture of the sides and frontstrap of the XDM grip feature a lugged surface--matching the pattern of the interchangeable backstraps--that is evocative of an off-road tire and provides a remarkably comfortable and secure grasp. The angle and depth of each contour in the grip has been calculated for maximized vertical, horizontal, and torsional control. Similar to the tests off-road tire manufacturers employ, Springfield's tests of the effectiveness of this pattern have shown that it takes approximately 30 percent more torque to dislodge an XDM from a shooter's grasp than a grip with typical checkering or grooves, even in a wet or sweaty hand. And it looks really cool.

Major Grasp Slide Serrations
The XDM slide features deeper, longer, and more slide serrations than the standard XD for a better, more penetrating grasp when manually cycling the action. The top of the slide has been contoured from the blocky, squared appearance of the original XD to a more attractive, angled and streamlined look that also enhances the security of the shooter's purchase on the slide serrations when racking the slide in a hurry. It also serves to relieve a bit of the additional weight of the longer barrel, and it improves balance. There are more than a few "expert" shooters who maintain that forward slide serrations on any auto pistol are merely cosmetic and have no practical function. I've seen more than a few of these same shooters miss their grasp on the slide when trying to

instantly clear a failed round in an IPSC match. Rob Leatham likes the XDM slide, and that's good enough for me.

Multiadjust Rail System
Like the standard XD, the new XDM features an integral Picatinny equipment rail molded into the frame forward of the trigger guard; it readily accepts lights, lasers, or other accessories. Unlike that of the standard XD, the XDM rail features three cross-slots instead of two, thus allowing greater flexibility in positioning a wider range of shapes, sizes, and accessory operating switches to accommodate different shooters' hand sizes, finger lengths, and shooting grasps--one- or two-handed.

Minimal Reset Trigger
One of the most significant performance enhancements of the XDM is a redesigned trigger mechanism that has a much shorter reach and shorter reset distance. The trigger utilizes the same Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) system of the standard XD. With its integral pivoting lever that eliminates danger of discharge unless the trigger finger is actually engaged, the USA trigger system now has the shortest travel of any currently available polymer pistol along with a similarly short reset. And if you don't believe this single feature will keep you on target better with greater ease for faster, more accurate follow-up shots--no matter what skill-level a shooter you are--you just need to try it side by side with any other system.

Melonite Finish
Springfield is also applying a new metal finish on the XDM. On black-finish XDMs, the slide and barrel have a melonite finish. On Bi-Tone XDMs with stainless-steel slides, only the barrels are finished in melonite. Traditional black-oxide finishes are a few millionths of an inch thick and offer no real corrosion resistance. The rugged melonite finish is a salt-bath nitriding process that leaves a thick, corrosion-resistant, matte/satin hard surface that resists wear much better.

Multiuse Carrying Case
Each standard XDM comes in a fitted, attache-case-sized polymer hardcase, equipped with XD Gear accessories that include two extra magazines, a polymer belt holster, dual magazine pouch, and magazine loader tool plus a safety lock and instruction manuals. The dense foam inserts can be reconfigured in a variety of ways, to allow carry/storage of multiple XDM and/ or XD pistols and other accessory items--a cellphone, iPod, GPS, etc.--up to the size of a laptop computer.

Minimal-Error Disassembly
I've saved this item for last because in many ways, I think it may be the most important "M-Factor" in the XDM's entire redesign set. XDM disassembly and reassembly is easier and safer than any other semiauto I've ever handled. You simply remove the magazine and lock the slide to the rear, thereby clearing the chamber, of course. Then rotate the takedown lever upward to vertical and pull the slide/barrel assembly forward off the frame. You do not need to pull the trigger as is required with many other striker-fired polymer pistols. In fact, when the takedown lever is rotated upward, the entire XDM firing mechanism is disabled, making it impossible to pull the trigger. You do not need to push out or remove any takedown pins or levers from the gun. To reassemble, just slip the slide onto the frame and latch it back, rotate the takedown lever back to horizontal, and release the slide latch. It's quick and simple, with zero possibility of a negligent discharge. Even a caveman can do it.

The differences between the new XDM (top) and the standard XD (bottom) are subtle yet profound.

Multiadjust Rail System
Like the standard XD, the new XDM features an integral Picatinny equipment rail molded into the frame forward of the trigger guard; it readily accepts lights, lasers, or other accessories. Unlike that of the standard XD, the XDM rail features three cross-slots instead of two, thus allowing greater flexibility in positioning a wider range of shapes, sizes, and accessory operating switches to accommodate different shooters' hand sizes, finger lengths, and shooting grasps--one- or two-handed.

Minimal Reset Trigger
One of the most significant performance enhancements of the XDM is a redesigned trigger mechanism that has a much shorter reach and shorter reset distance. The trigger utilizes the same Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) system of the standard XD. With its integral pivoting lever that eliminates danger of discharge unless the trigger finger is actually engaged, the USA trigger system now has the shortest travel of any currently available polymer pistol along with a similarly short reset. And if you don't believe this single feature will keep you on target better with greater ease for faster, more accurate follow-up shots--no matter what skill-level a shooter you are--you just need to try it side by side with any other system.

Melonite Finish
Springfield is also applying a new metal finish on the XDM. On black-finish XDMs, the slide and barrel have a melonite finish. On Bi-Tone XDMs with stainless-steel slides, only the barrels are finished in melonite. Traditional black-oxide finishes are a few millionths of an inch thick and offer no real corrosion resistance. The rugged melonite finish is a salt-bath nitriding process that leaves a thick, corrosion-resistant, matte/satin hard surface that resists wear much better.

Multiuse Carrying Case
Each standard XDM comes in a fitted, attache-case-sized polymer hardcase, equipped with XD Gear accessories that include two extra magazines, a polymer belt holster, dual magazine pouch, and magazine loader tool plus a safety lock and instruction manuals. The dense foam inserts can be reconfigured in a variety of ways, to allow carry/storage of multiple XDM and/ or XD pistols and other accessory items--a cellphone, iPod, GPS, etc.--up to the size of a laptop computer.

Minimal-Error Disassembly
I've saved this item for last because in many ways, I think it may be the most important "M-Factor" in the XDM's entire redesign set. XDM disassembly and reassembly is easier and safer than any other semiauto I've ever handled. You simply remove the magazine and lock the slide to the rear, thereby clearing the chamber, of course. Then rotate the takedown lever upward to vertical and pull the slide/barrel assembly forward off the frame. You do not need to pull the trigger as is required with many other striker-fired polymer pistols. In fact, when the takedown lever is rotated upward, the entire XDM firing mechanism is disabled, making it impossible to pull the trigger. You do not need to push out or remove any takedown pins or levers from the gun. To reassemble, just slip the slide onto the frame and latch it back, rota

te the takedown lever back to horizontal, and release the slide latch. It's quick and simple, with zero possibility of a negligent discharge. Even a caveman can do it.

Plus All The Basics
Of course, in addition to all these new features and refinements in the XDM, it still incorporates every standard operating feature and mechanical function that has made the basic XD such a runaway success. These are so well-known by now as to need no detailed elaboration, but they include dovetailed steel front and rear sights that are drift-adjustable for windage; the options include conventional white three-dot, tritium night sights, and red fiber-optic configurations.

The semiauto mechanism is a familiar Browning-type cam-ramp, tilt-barrel system with noncockable striker- fired ignition mechanism that requires a partial rearward motion of the slide--approximately 3/4 inch--to ready the system. The XDM is therefore legally a single-action trigger design because its trigger only performs one function: releasing the firing mechanism. The 5.5- to 7.7-pound XDM trigger may feel like a DAO (double action only), but it is not.

The XDM also features the unique XD grip safety that prevents the gun's trigger from being squeezed unless it is fully depressed and also freezes the slide. If the grip safety isn't down, you cannot pull the trigger, and you can't pull the slide to the rear to load an empty chamber or clear a loaded chamber. There is a separate internal firing-pin block that is deactivated only when the trigger is pressed all the way rearward.

There are also two separate readiness indicators. The first is a prominently visible and readily felt bright silver firing-pin-status indicator that protrudes from the rear center of the slide whenever the gun's firing mechanism is set for firing. Also, a loaded chamber indicator protrudes from the top of the slide whenever it is engaging a cartridge case. The XDM has more safety features than any other auto pistol I know.

On the 25-yard range, my review sample XDM pistol easily digested my standard five-load .40 S&W pistol-function review series without any mechanical hiccup, and it delivered groups with an overall average comfortably under 3 inches (see the accompanying chart). That's about a half-inch smaller overall than my standard .40 S&W XD with the same ammo. And it is an absolute joy in the hand.

There's an old saying in this business about how hard it is to make a good gun better--remember post-'64 Winchester Model 70s?

In that regard, Springfield has succeeded in spades.

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